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Grab an Egg (And Shave It): The Don Walker Series, #2

Grab an Egg (And Shave It): The Don Walker Series, #2

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Grab an Egg (And Shave It): The Don Walker Series, #2

168 Seiten
2 Stunden
Jan 22, 2021


"Grab and Egg and Shave It" is the sequel to "For the Love a Pete." Don Walker, having relocated from downtown Louisville, settles into rural Oldham County, and a new position in human resources recruiting and job placement. His relationship with Karen, a younger woman, deepens as she reveals her troubled past. Earlier choices by his fifteen-year-old daughter Lisa result in a vicious cycle of cyber-bullying that Don tries to overcome, without the help of community or law enforcement resources, while the unexpected death of a friend under tragic consequences throws him into depression. His dissolute sister Leslie, arrested on human trafficking charges, seeks his help in resetting her own life. The story introduces a new character, Gerald Alexopoulos, a naturalized Greek citizen with a penchant for home-country aphorisms, and Don's new boss, who becomes an important ally in unexpected ways.

Jan 22, 2021

Über den Autor

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Fred enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, and retired in the grade of Commander after 23 years of service in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville (BA with honors) and the Albany Law School of Union University (JD). He retired from the private practice of law in New York, Pennsylvania and Kentucky after thirty-six years, and considers himself a fully recovered attorney. Fred and his wife, Donna, make their home in Kentucky.

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Grab an Egg (And Shave It) - Frederic W. Burr


Chapter One

Autumn trims Oldham County in shades of red and gold; the morning air is less humid, almost crisp, forecasting the temperature eventually dropping to the biting end of fall. The dew-dampened fields of area horse farms are still green despite the change in season. Watchful mares graze idly while their colts, sturdy by now on their new legs, frolic nearby in the sparkling grass. Groups of early morning cyclists glide north along US 42 in brightly colored jerseys and bike shorts, training for Ironman Louisville, which is scheduled for the weekend after Halloween, and close upon us. How they can sit on those racing bike seats that look to me like axe blades and peddle for hours on end is beyond my comprehension.

An endless queue of SUVs and sedans line up at Oldham Central High at quarter to eight in the a.m., while the loaded school buses jockey for position in the crowded field of vehicles. At half past eight, all of the students will be headed for their homerooms. By the time the reverse process starts up in the afternoon, the heat of the day will be closing in, the cyclists will be off the roads for the most part, and the horses looking for shade, standing in pairs head to tail to brush the flies off of each other’s faces.

Neighbors of the high school will hear the marching band, at least the bass drum, booming from the football field until four thirty or so.

Fortunately, my commute from Goshen to La Grange, where I work for HR Staffing Now, an office that assists area employers seeking HR talent in a variety of fields, allows me to avoid the school traffic, but not the cyclists. For some reason, our Commonwealth thinks these incongruent traffic streams, motor vehicles and bicycles, can safely coexist on curved two-lane country roads with speed limits of 55 mph, even in the face of numerous car-bicycle accidents usually resulting in a fatality for the cyclist. My fifteen-year-old daughter Lisa thinks I am, on this and so many other issues, in her words, a grump.

This morning, I am scheduled to meet with my boss, Gerald, he goes by Gerry, Alexopoulos. He is a Greek and proud of it, reminding me frequently that ancient Greece gave mankind fundamental disciplines on which everything else coming after them was built – philosophy, geometry, democracy and moussaka; he says the last of these with special emphasis. On occasion, he will throw in storytelling, ‘invented by Homer,’ he so informs me.

His first name comes from the ancient Greek name Argyros, and the ending of his last name, so I have been informed several times, stems from the Latin pullus, which means nestling, or chick (the fowl, not the girl), and occurs primarily in the Peloponnese.

When I first met him, I could not restrain myself from telling him, with his shaved head and lack of facial hair, he was a dead ringer for Telly Savalas, who, as Kojak, frequently said, Everybody should have a little Greek in them. Although he stands at just under six feet, and I am an inch or so over six feet, he fills whatever room he is in as if he were a giant. I always feel as if I am looking up at him, even when I’m not.

I know, he said with a mournful expression. I get that all the time. Even now, and he’s been gone these past twenty odd years. I don’t tell him that his uncanny resemblance to Savalas has inspired me to watch the actor’s old movies when they show up on pay per view, and the occasional episode of Kojak.

Gerry is a very smart man, and a shrewd businessman. He has lived in this country for over twenty-five years, and became a citizen twelve years ago. Like me, he is an escapee from active HR management, and came up with the idea to set up an HR head-hunting firm some five years ago to capitalize on his own experience.

If he would only dress like his doppelganger, it would be easier to take him seriously. Yesterday, he was attired like a character out of some Disney movie; checked slacks, a pink shirt, a wide paisley tie from the seventies, and a seersucker blazer. As I travel north on US 42 to KY 53, I speculate on what he might be wearing today at our meeting to discuss my mentoring program.

When I started here, he asked me if I had any ideas for growing the business, and I suggested we start a mentoring program to solicit applications from college-bound high school students in Oldham and Jefferson counties, for internships in HR management with participating clients. I am expecting most of our applicants will initially come from Oldham, but hopeful that the existence of such a program might inspire students struggling to get anything close to an education in the abysmal Jefferson county public school system. At least that is the long-range goal.

Our office is on Park Drive; the office park has two buildings, one of which is still available for lease. We have the building farthest from the street, which has the added advantage of being shaded by a small, wooded area behind us. I park my Toyota Highlander, perfect for toting Lisa and her friends, and all of their gear, whenever necessary, next to Gerry’s Buick SUV. From the parking lot, it looks like all of our staff are present and accounted for. We have eighteen employees, not counting Gerry, who is the agency director, organized into four areas of responsibility: business development, recruiting manager, compliance and support staff. I am the recruiting manager, responsible for the company’s recruitment process and meeting recruiting targets. As such, I get to assign job openings to each recruiter, but the part of my job I enjoy the most is interfacing with the firm’s clients, to learn what qualifications they look for, to match those openings up with our candidates.

Gerry’s outfit today is true to form; a navy linen blazer, light blue slacks, and a pale green shirt. I suspect he gets dressed in the pitch dark; clearly, he gets no fashion advice from his wife. His greeting as I walk into his office, the door of which is always open, is effusive as ever.

"Yassou, young Donald!" he says. I have already been informed that yassou is the way Greeks say hello in greeting each other. He always refers to me as ‘young Donald,’ even though he has barely five years on me. His face is wreathed in a smile; I have never seen him in a dour mood, unless someone brings up his resemblance to Telly. He does not extend his hand. I have learned Greeks do not normally shake hands, but were we not in a professional setting, he would be hugging me and kissing both cheeks. Are you ready to finalize your program? He rubs his hands together, as if he cannot wait to delve into it.

Yes, Gerry. All we need to do, I think, is to set the grade point averages we’re looking for on the applications, and go over the list of school districts to include in the program.

He nods. We ate the donkey, just the tail is left. I must look confused; he goes on to interpret. A saying in my home country. You would probably say the hard work is done, just a few details are left. He is an endless source of expressions like this, some of them more fathomable than others. He uses them, I am guessing, simply to maintain a tie with his home country.


On the wall behind his desk chair is a framed piece of calligraphy in Greek with the translation below, which reads: ‘The old age of an eagle is better than the youth of a sparrow,’ which I find puzzling. Is it speaking to the wisdom of the larger bird, or the longer life span, or the relative strength of the two? I have never asked Gerry for the meaning.

Within a few minutes, we settle on a minimum GPA of 3.50 out of four points, and he will look over my list of school districts later today. We go through the ritual of asking after each other’s family before I bundle up the draft documents, and promise to have a smooth draft for his review by close of business the following day. Back in my office, I spend time transcribing our notes into the Word file on my desktop and forward the final copy to support staff for printing and distribution to area school districts after Gerry’s sign-off. Then I give my ex-wife, Sharon, a call to firm up plans for having my daughter this coming weekend. For one reason or another, I have not been able to have Lisa over for a weekend in the past three weeks, and I miss her.

Sharon answers on the fourth ring, just as the answering machine was about to pick up.


She sounds much older than her thirty-nine years. Her health, such as it is, seems to have hit a plateau, but not in a positive way. A recovering alcoholic, who still drinks, but only modestly, thanks to a monthly injection she receives, she has something called a low ejection fraction and is a candidate for a pacemaker, or maybe even some type of ventricular assist device as a bridge for a heart transplant. More often than not, I begin to think about suggesting Lisa live with me, but for now, I have the sense it is better for Sharon to have our daughter at her house.

Sharon, it’s me.

I know. Caller ID showed your office, so I guessed it was.

How are you doing?

She makes a long sigh before answering. Okay, I guess. I see my doctor in a couple of weeks, and he’ll tell me how I’m doing.

You’re sticking with the plan? Right? Her original doctor who prescribed the injections to curb excessive drinking, suggested she change her diet, try to quit drinking all together, get moderate exercise and enroll in a twelve-step program.

I suppose. I’m not getting as much exercise as I used to. Lisa isn’t always able to walk with me, especially on weekdays. I need to motivate myself to walk alone, I suppose.

I understand. I’m calling about this weekend, to see if Lisa has any plans.

No, not that I know of. When do you want to pick her up?

Friday evening, before supper? I was thinking we might make up a pizza.

I’ll pass that by her. Will your girlfriend be there this weekend? she asks.

Yes, I think so, I say, even though I know Karen will definitely be with me. I am still hesitant to simply admit to Sharon that Karen is in my life, even though she knows about Karen, and has even met her once or twice, and that I am happy. I do not want to seem somehow boastful since Karen is nine years my junior. More likely it is out of sympathy for my ex-wife.


Yet, I have no fixed understanding of my relationship with Karen, and that troubles me. At first, our coupling was casual and mostly about sex, until Karen got spooked, afraid I was thinking about marriage, which I was. She is also divorced, and she does not talk about her ex at all; I have no idea what his name is, where he lives, how the divorce came about, or even how long they were married.

After my being smacked in the head with a baseball bat, while trying to rescue (there is no other word for it) Lisa from an unsupervised party that was turning dangerous, Karen decided to give us another try. Even though she stays over at my place practically every weekend, we still maintain separate residences. We seem well suited to each other, but whatever this is, I know it is only temporary. She can walk away any time the going gets rough, or she finds a better opportunity. God knows there are plenty of those around. At this point in my life, I feel the need for something more, and I want her to be part of it. Maybe, being older, I am just more of a traditionalist than she is?


Well, if Lisa comes over, that might be good if Karen is there, Sharon says, charitably. In the recent past, she has admitted that she still loves me, even while she was still with her second husband, actually her second ex-husband, me being the first of her former spouses, Reginald DeFreese. Reggie now lays his head down at a white-collar federal prison for the next seven or eight years. I still get a chill when I recall that conversation. Sometimes, I think divorce does not work like it is supposed to.


One of my recruiters, his name is Ronald Pastor, sticks his head in the door and taps on the doorjamb. I wave

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